Regular readers of this column will know that supporting our war veterans is something I champion regularly.
I consider it a privilege to be able to meet with many ex-servicemen, learning about their experiences and also about support that they may need.
The Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes charities in particular undertake vital work to support our veterans.
This year, Help for Heroes worked with government to fund the Big White Wall programme, which will provide counselling and support to over 4,000 serving personal, veterans and their families. Without the work of organisations such as Help for Heroes, many of the issues affecting our veterans would go unrecognised.
The Royal British Legion is incorporating its new knowledge database and advice service with the Veterans’ Information Service, improving contact with those who have left the forces that may need support.
It is only right that we provide the care and support needed by those who have made such sacrifices for our country. That is why I am pleased to hear about progress made by the government in supporting our veterans on health issues.
Since 2011, there has been a 24-hour mental health helpline for veterans, run by the charities Combat Stress and Rethink. The Combat Stress Support Helpline is on 0800 138 1619 and has already received 30,000 calls since being set up.
The government is working to make sure that other organisations have the skills required to support our Armed Forces and veterans. For example, GPs now have an e-learning package to guide them on how to meet their needs and the Health Department is funding a mentoring service for veterans with mental health problems provided by Timebank.
I will continue to work to support our veterans in every way I can, making sure it remains high on the government’s agenda.